An international research consortium led by the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA), UNSW Sydney, has released its first findings into universal and demographic-specific risk factors for age-related cognitive decline. The study showed different rates of decline across twelve countries, but found several common risk factors associated with gender, ethnicity and genetics in a study published today in the journal, PLOS Medicine.
Lead author and study co-ordinator of COSMIC (Cohort Studies of Memory in an International Consortium), Dr Darren Lipnicki, said the findings provide an exciting insight into the global variation of dementia prevalence, as well as commonalities.
Cognitive test scores were analysed for over 42,000 elderly individuals from Australia, Brazil, France, Greece, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain, South Korea, United Kingdom and the USA.
“We found that the 14 studies, conducted across 12 countries, showed different rates of cognitive decline. We also found that decline in some cognitive performance scores was faster for Asian than Caucasian populations, females than males, and ApoE ε4carriers,” said Dr Lipnicki.
Carrying the ApoE ε4allele has been previously associated with higher risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Mini-Mental State Examination, and memory, processing speed, language, and executive functioning test scores all declined with age, and rates of decline accelerated with age.
“Now that we’ve identified differences in rates of decline, we will investigate whether specific factors like cardiovascular health, lifestyle or other risk factors have different associations with cognitive decline between ethno-cultural groups and geographic regions,” said Dr Lipnicki.
“Identifying risk and protective factors will help to drive evidence-based intervention strategies to target, delay and potentially prevent dementia.”
Co-author and CHeBA Co-Director Professor Perminder Sachdev said the findings were encouraging for demonstrating the power of large-scale, international studies to improve dementia understanding.
“This large-scale approach has been used successfully in other medical fields, such as genetics and epilepsy. CHeBA is thrilled to be leading international dementia research, which would not be possible without the generous spirit of collaboration we have encountered from fellow research groups around the world.”
Established in 2012, COSMIC is one of four international consortia led by CHeBA to investigate risk and protective factors for dementia incidence and healthy brain ageing world-wide. Support for the consortia’s research is driven by CHeBA’s major philanthropic initiative, The Dementia Momentum.
Dr Lipnicki said that the next phase of research has already begun, including seeking to replicate findings in mainland China, India and African countries.
Media contact: Heidi Douglass, Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing,
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